Dementia Storybook Distributed to Public Schools and Libraries Statewide

Currently, nearly 100,000 kūpuna and others in Hawaii are affected by Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. In Hawaii, where multigenerational homes are common, many young people live with older people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Yet carers of young people are largely invisible to the aged care service system.

pomai and dad book

To shed light on this question, a storybook for Hawaii youth, titled Pomaï and his daddeveloped by the University of Hawaii among public health and social work researchers in Mānoa, was distributed to all 294 Hawaii Department of Education public and charter schools, and the state’s 51 public libraries. Books were provided free of charge and included a small guide for young people and one for supporting adults.

Developed by the Hā Kūpuna, the National Resource Center for Native Hawaiian Elders, a program of the Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health, the storybook follows Pomai as she navigates the troubling changes she begins to notice in his father. She starts struggling at school because she doesn’t know how to help him.

The booklet helps keiki understand dementia, memory loss
—July 30, 2019

“This book reflects the lives of our students,” says Joyce Pien, library science teacher at Pālolo Elementary School. “It validates their life experiences as grandchildren who cherish their aging grandparents.”

The book was based on research conducted by the Hā Kūpuna team during which they interviewed young people, doctors, elder care providers and cultural advisers.

Mnemonics help retain information

“The data suggests that young people enjoy stories, especially those that reflect the faces and voices of Hawaii,” said Shelley Muneoka, coordinator of Hā Kūpuna. “We also learned that mnemonics can help young people remember more important information.”

Thus, the mnemonic HALIʻA (good memory), developed by Lana Sue Ka’opuaappears throughout the book which describes the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia:

This book reflects the lives of our students
—Joyce Pien

H: Difficult to remember names, events, basic information. Can lose track of days, dates, time of year. Hard to find things.
A: At risk of wandering and other dangerous behaviors.
L : Loses judgment, has more difficulty solving problems.
I: Increasing difficulty remembering words when speaking or writing.
A ʻAno (the fundamental nature of a person, his personality) changes. These changes can be accompanied by confusion, frustration, anger and impatience which can be seen in facial expressions, voice, gestures and behaviors.

“The storybook also provides links for more information about dementia,” said Kathryn L. Braun, director of Hā Kūpuna and professor in the Office of Public Health Studies. “It also includes ways to connect with the Aloha Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.”

To download Pomai and her daddy free. A full report of the research on which the book is based is published in Gerontology and Geriatrics Education.

Braun and Muneoka’s co-authors on the article also included: Colette V. Brown, Lana Sue Ka’opua, Yan Yan Wu, Rachel L. Burrage and Yeonjung Lee of the Hā Kūpuna National Resource Center for Native Hawaiian Elders.

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